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Identification of two integration sites in favor of transgene expression in Trichoderma reesei

Qin, Lina, Jiang, Xianzhang, Dong, Zhiyang, Huang, Jianzhong, Chen, Xiuzhen
Biotechnology for biofuels 2018 v.11 no.1 pp. 142
Aspergillus niger, Trichoderma reesei, carboxylic ester hydrolases, cellulases, fluorescence, fungi, gene expression, loci, protein secretion, recombinant proteins, red fluorescent protein, screening, transgenes, transgenesis, viruses
BACKGROUND: The ascomycete fungus Trichoderma reesei was widely used as a biotechnological workhorse for production of cellulases and recombinant proteins due to its large capacity of protein secretion. Transgenesis by random integration of a gene of interest (GOI) into the genome of T. reesei can generate series of strains that express different levels of the indicated transgene. The insertion site of the GOI plays an important role in the ultimate production of the targeted proteins. However, so far no systematic studies have been made to identify transgene integration loci for optimal expression of the GOI in T. reesei. Currently, only the locus of exocellobiohydrolases I encoding gene (cbh1) is widely used as a promising integration site to lead to high expression level of the GOI. No additional sites associated with efficient gene expression have been characterized. RESULTS: To search for gene integration sites that benefit for the secreted expression of GOI, the food-and-mouth disease virus 2A protein was applied for co-expression of an Aspergillus niger lipA gene and Discosoma sp. DsRed1 gene in T. reesei, by random integration of the expression cassette into the genome. We demonstrated that the fluorescent intensity of RFP (red fluorescent protein) inside of the cell was well correlated with the secreted lipase yields, based on which, we successfully developed a high-throughput screening method to screen strains with relatively higher secreted expression of the GOI (in this study, lipase). The copy number and the insertion sites of the transgene were investigated among the selected highly expressed strains. Eventually, in addition to cbh1 gene locus, two other genome insertion loci that efficiently facilitate gene expression in T. reesei were identified. CONCLUSIONS: We have successfully developed a high-throughput screening method to screen strains with optimal expression of the indicated secreted proteins in T. reesei. Moreover, we identified two optimal genome loci for transgene expression, which could provide new approach to modulate gene expression levels while retaining the indicated promoter and culture conditions.